The unexpected effects of bringing your own

By: Jonathan Hallatt

Date: 19 August 2013

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Is your network already at breaking point?

Regardless of the size or sector of your business, technology lies at its heart, keeping all departments running. It is only set to become more important as bring your own device (BYOD) and paper-free environments become common.

Picture a business in which employees are using their own mobile devices and where most information is in digital form. The sudden rise in employees logging on to the wireless network with different devices will have an impact across the network.

As there are more devices and more users, there will be more network traffic. This can cause congestion, leading to performance bottlenecks and downtime.

With more data being consumed and produced, storage and backup demands increase. And as the IT highways get busier, more monitoring may be needed to ensure rogue users are blocked and risks are avoided.

Is your  IT infrastructure ready for these challenges? Here's how to be prepared:

1. Get your wireless right

Make sure your wireless access points are in positions that optimise performance, but watch for interference. Headsets and phones can interfere if they operate on the same frequency.

If your business has more than one office, you can reduce costs by looking into solutions that deploy wireless networks across sites but are managed centrally.

It's important to plan for peaks in activity. Creating a network that can automatically balance the traffic load will help everyone keep working smoothly.

2. Support growing network demands

The speed of your company network is limited by its slowest component. For instance, if you have cables which can transfer data at 1Gbps (gigabits per second), make sure your network switches can support this speed too.

If your network has to handle a large amount of traffic, you may need to look into cabling and equipment that can handle 10Gbps.

3. Keep your network secure

Allowing users to connect to your network using any device, from any place, at any time requires 24/7 monitoring.

Traffic coming from and to the internet needs to be checked and filtered. You can regulate and restrict access to services using a firewall, but it's also important to have virus, spam, web and email content filters.

4. Support voice, video and data together

Networks are converging, so the same wires handle everything. For instance, many companies are replacing their traditional phone systems with VoIP technology that routes telephone calls over the internet.

It's really important to think about these needs when planning your network, because consolidating your network traffic will help keep a lid on operating costs and make it easier to manage.

5. Store, manage and protect data

The amount of data we create is doubling every two years. As paper-free working grows in popularity, it's important you can store, manage and retrieve data easily - but it's also important to protect that data from unauthorised access.

Network disruptions can occur too, so you need a network that's resilient, with minimal risk of downtime.

Giving employees the ability to use technology flexibly is important, but you must be careful not to ignore or underestimate the wider implications of introducing BYOD and paper-free environments.

To have the best possible chance of success, do your homework and make sure you're prepared.

Jonathan Hallatt is regional director of UKISA at NETGEAR.

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